Beautiful and Deadly

Beautiful and Deadly by Ari Hahn
Beautiful and Deadly, a photo by Ari Hahn on Flickr.

Kaaterskill Falls is famous for its beauty. It was a favorite spot for the painters of the Hudson Valley School of Art. America’s first artist colony was in nearby Palenville, NY. While the whole Catskill area is beautiful, Kaaterskill Falls is especially captivating.

But it can also be deadly. Every year somebody gets too close to the raging water and meets real tragedy.

Beautiful and Deadly

Anybody who has experienced bi-polar disorder up close knows a special dimension of these words. Most of the time the metaphor used for bi-polar is a raging sea vs. the calm. Of course, that is a good metaphor. But the beautiful and dangerous waterfall is just as valid, but from a different perspective. The person who suffers from bi-polar disorder experiences the rush of a raging ocean vs. the dead calm of a stagnant pond. Often that is the experience of the caregivers also. But there is another category of loved ones that can see things differently. They can see the beauty in the dangerous side. They can love the person for the whole range of emotions and behaviors even while appreciating that it is dangerous and distance is often the prudent procedure.

I just read a book called “where are the cocoa puffs?” by Karen Winters Schwartz. It is a novel about an 18 year old girl who descends into the depths of bi-polar disorder. It is a wonderful and highly recommended book with many great qualities that I will not discuss right now because I want to focus on just one aspect. The protagonist, Mandy, picks up a boyfriend during one of her first manic stages. The boy, Ryan, falls madly in love with this hyperactive, hyper manic, hypersexual, beautiful girl. I suspect that part of the reason that he stays with her after some very extreme behavior is because he was accepted into her successful loving (but suffering and struggling) family. However, since he loves the whole person, he views her more like an extremely beautiful and powerfully dangerous waterfall. He just happens to be one that can also engage the waterfall.

Since the book is very realistic (although, by necessity cannot portray the true depth of emotions that family members actually experience) and since it is a novel, I plan to come back to this book often to illustrate things that I see in my clients.

The book is available at amazon. (I wish I knew how to put one of those “buy it at Amazon” links here.)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Beautiful and Deadly

  1. This book sounds like it provides a lovely portrayal of someone who is suffering from bipolar disorder. I’m also quite tempted to read it 🙂

    I also like the analogy that you are portraying of someone who is dealing with this illness and the emotions and battles they go through and the waterfall that you describe up in the Catskill area.

    To date, the only book that I’ve read by someone with this illness is An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It too is a wonderful book on this topic.

    I can’t wait to hear more about Mandy and Ryan!

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